by Melinda Gallo

Centro prelievi

My new ginecologa (gynecologist) gave me a stack of esami (tests) to do because I am new to her and she said that I need to check everything to make sure everything is OK. I'm assuming she was referring to my age again, but I agree that if I haven't done a major check-up, I probably should.

I have been to the centro prelievi (the clinic where they take blood samples and you drop off samples to be tested) on Borgo Pinti a few times before.

I went to the centro prelievi on Monday to pick up the take-home kit to do one of the tests I was prescribed. I told the woman what I needed and handed her my ricetta medicale (prescription. She handed me the kit and said, "Devi tornare qui alle 7 per lasciare i campioni." (You have to come back here at 7AM to drop off your samples). I tilted my head as I was surprised that she had to point at me when she said, "devi" (you have to) and then point down when she said, "qui" (here). I then asked her, "Fino a quando posso arrivare?" (Up until when can I come?). "Dalle 7 a ottanta numeri." (From 7AM to 80 numbers).

I assumed that it would take at least an hour for them to hand out 80 numbers, so I set my alarm for 7AM. A friend told me that I should go early and that if I didn't, they'd make me go home. And at 5AM I woke up and decided that I should just get ready and get there as early as possible. I couldn't imagine doing the test, arriving there early, and then be sent home.

On my way to the centro prelievi, I bought La Repubblica at the edicola (newspaper stand) across the street from my place. I don't often buy the newspaper, but I figured it'd be a good idea in case I have time to kill. I arrived at 7:15AM and took a numero. I wondered how I would know if I had one of the 80 numeri allotted for the day since the two sale d'attesa (waiting rooms) were packed and there were only a few seats left.

I started reading the paper and within a few minutes, the numbers ran out. I felt some relief for me, but I felt bad for the people who kept coming in over the next hour in the hopes of getting a number. The centro prelievi used to operate from 7AM to 9AM, but because they are supposedly understaffed, they can only handle 80 people a day.

People in the sala d'attesa took turns telling the new arrivals that there were no more numeri. Almost everyone was upset; a few just walked out without shrugging their shoulders. One man was so upset that he yelled at the two girls behind the sportello (counter) and made some evil threats. Most of us were so shocked that no one spoke.

By 9:15AM, my numero was called and I handed the woman my campione. She gave me a sheet of paper indicating how much I had to pay and when the risultati (results) would be ready.

I walked out exhausted from my two hour stint in the centro prelievi that I had to take a nap to just feel human again. At least when I go back to pick up the risultati, I won't have to take a number. And the time for pick-ups is in the afternoon, so it's already less of a strain.

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